This November, I’m telling 30 stories about 30 albums. The albums on this list are not necessarily my favorite albums, but they are the ones that are instantly associated with a time and place. All of these albums represent a chapter of my life. This is the story of those albums, and by extension, the story of me, presented mostly chronologically.
Album 28: My War by Black Flag.
Another one of my favorite punk bands when I was a teen was Black Flag. I had a pair of jeans on which I drew the puppet from the cover of this album in black sharpie. I still have them.
This band has had so many incarnations and members that it’s hard to keep it all straight.
Unfortunately, due to personality conflicts and lots of drugs, their last show was in 1986 in Detroit, right before I discovered them. Had I found them a few months earlier, I would have been at that show. I never got to see them live.
In the 2000’s they got back together, sans Henry Rollins, to do three shows, and only three shows, to benefit a cat rescue. No kidding. They really got back together to save the kitty cats. Meow.
My show buddy from Boston flew out to Los Angeles just to see this show. All of my Los Angeles friends had tickets. We were totally excited. We all lived parallel lives before we found each other. We discovered the same music at the same time, watched the same movies, hung out at Dennys and Rocky Horror, had mohawks and combat boots, etc., just in different cities. Black Flag was hugely influential to all of us. This was a once in a lifetime event like the show I missed in 1986.
We all met up at a friend’s house before the show since he lived closest to the Metro station. We were taking the train into Hollywood since there were a lot of us and no one wanted to be designated driver. At least three of us, including me, had mohawks.
In our excitement, we drank quite a bit before the show. As our motley crew was walking to the train station, a police cruiser pulled up and shined its light at us. Over the loud speaker came a booming voice, “Dispose of your alcoholic beverages now.” Everyone complied. In the middle of the pack, I pretended to put mine down, but I didn’t actually do it. I’ve always been very contrary and I am the very definition of impaired judgment when drinking. The light shined directly in my eyes, and with significant emphasis and pause between words, the loudspeaker said, “PUT THE BEER DOWN.” I did.
It became a running joke with my friends, and every so often, someone can be heard cupping their hand over their mouth to imitate a loudspeaker and saying those words whenever we get together.
By the time we got to the show, we were well intoxicated and excited beyond words. Unfortunately, the show itself ended up being rather disappointing. It was like they hadn’t played together since 1986 and hadn’t practiced at all since then.
Still, having all my friends together geeking out like we were teenagers, including my friend from Boston and Male, was one of the most entertaining nights of my life anyway. Plus, we saved some cats.
“PUT THE BEER DOWN.”
Most of the setlist for that show was from this album.